Hope for neglected areas

Bay’s new budget aims to improve service delivery to all communities in the metro

Lack of development and the constant neglect of the Uitenhage, Despatch and KwaNobuhle areas in Nelson Mandela Bay could soon be a thing of the past, as the coalition government plans to inject millions of rands to prioritise service delivery there.

But the plan will only go ahead after the coalition government passes the 2017-18 budget, which stands at about R10-billion and will be tabled before a full council meeting tomorrow.

In his report, mayor Athol Trollip said the most extensive public participation process the city had ever conducted was undertaken to assess the needs of all its communities.

“The aim of this process was to specifically assess the needs of all communities to comprehensively review the prematurely compiled 2016-17 IDP [Integrated Development Plan] entitled ‘The Five Golden Years’,” he said.

“Given the limited financial resources available to our administration, we have ensured that all operational and capital budget expenditure will be directed to the core service delivery areas.” Trollip said Uitenhage, KwaNobuhle, Despatch and Khayamnandi, as well as the northern areas, would be prioritised by his administration.

“The previous neglect of these areas will be addressed through a significantly improved allocation of funding to these communities,” he said. “In an inclusive city, a caring government ensures that nobody gets left behind.”

The immediate priorities in the four areas were housing, community safety and critical infrastructure delivery.

The main budget allocations would be employee-related, taking up about 30% of the total operating budgets; bulk water and electricity purchases at 31.67%; contracted services at 12.47%, and depreciation of asset impairment at 8.52%.

The budget and treasury department said in the report the bloated wage bill was a result of paying longservice bonuses.

To fund the 2017-18 budget, the city has also had to increase rates and service charges.

If approved by the council tomorrow, property rates will increase 4.4%, water, sanitation and refuse rates will go up 9%, while the average electricity increase will be 1.88%, depending on the property categories.

Major projects still planned for the coming financial years include bucket-toilet eradication, tarring of gravel roads, electrification of informal houses, and the Nooitgedacht water scheme, among others.

Budget and treasury political head Retief Odendaal said Trollip instructed them to prepare a budget that would transform Bay communities.

“The mayor asked for a pro-poor budget that will transform communities and people’s lives. It was quite a difficult process,” Odendaal said.

“In April, we went out to communities to say to [them], ‘this is what you have said are the priorities, we need you to choose the top priorities’.

“We cannot give communities everything at once, but we can certainly start somewhere.”

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